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In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray

BA Heathrow flights switch terminals


Date: 31-Oct-2014

British Airways flights from Heathrow to Belfast City Airport and Dublin have switched to Terminal 5 from Terminal 1 and services from Heathrow to Barcelona have moved to Terminal 3 from Terminal 5.
 


New flights to Slovakian mountains


Date: 30-Oct-2014

Skiers and hikers have a new air route to the mountains from this week (starting October 28) when Wizz Air launches a flights from Luton to Poprad, in Slovakia. Poprad lies at the foot of the Tatra range in the north of the country. The airline will fly there three times a week from October 28. Tour operator Mountain Paradise is taking advantage of the new service to offer long weekends on the Tatra slopes this winter. Customers will fly out on Thursday, back on Sunday, with a choice of a range of accommodation.


Peak walkway opens


Date: 29-Oct-2014

Hard on the heels of news that the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge will open next month in Austria, comes the announcement that another has just opened above the Swiss resort of Gstaad. This one’s claimed to be the first hanging bridge connecting two peaks. At 3000 metres above sea level it stretches for 107 metres between the View Point and the Scex Rouge with a view, in clear weather, taking in Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Bernese Alps.
 

Hanging bridge

Boutique hotel has own beach hut


Date: 28-Oct-2014

A new boutique hotel with its own beach hut has opened on a hill overlooking the Kent coast at Whitstable. The 18 room Crescent Turner on Wraik Hill has 18 rooms and a restaurant whose menu includes the local oysters, which the town celebrates with an annual festival in July. Guests may reserve the beach hut, which has cooking facilities including a barbecue and houses three canoes.
 

The Crescent Turner

Budget transatlantic flights planned


Date: 27-Oct-2014

Icelandic low cost airline WOW is to launch flights from Gatwick to Boston and Baltimore Washington airport via Reykjavik. Departures to the former will start on March 27. Services to the latter – it’s about an hour’s drive to Washington DC - will begin on June 4. The airline says its lowest one way fare between March 30 and June 15 will be £99 one way but a check on the airline’s web site showed that price available on only a few flights one way.  Plus there’s a total of £17.48 in booking fees, a £39 charge for checked baggage and a minimum of £2 to choose a particular seat. But if you are prepared to add 3hrs to your journey time on the way out and about 4hrs on the return leg you should be able to trim your travel costs. A random check showed the total cost on WOW, departing in April 17 and returning a week later, assuming you take hold bags and choose seats, would be £436.65 (add £24 return for extra leg room) compared with £632 return in economy on British Airways on the same dates.
 


Lincoln shooting - exhibition planned


Date: 24-Oct-2014

The pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot President Lincoln will be among the exhibits brought together in Washington next spring to mark the 150th anniversary of the event. “Silent Witnesses: artifacts of the Lincoln assassination” will be staged from March 23 until May 25 at the Center for Education and Leadership, opposite the Ford's Theatre, where the shooting occurred. Other exhibits, assembled from a range of museums, include Lincoln’s top hat, cuff links, great coat and the contents of his pockets that fateful night.


Suspension bridge to open in Tirol


Date: 23-Oct-2014

A pedestrian suspension bridge claimed to be the world’s longest is scheduled to open next month in the Tirolean market town of Reutte. The 403 metre bridge, will link the ruins of Ehrenburg castle with Fort Claudia. Visitors will cross at a dizzying 114.6 metres above the intervening gorge. Currently the longest such suspension bridge is on the island of Kyushu, Japan.
 


New flights from Leeds-Bradford


Date: 22-Oct-2014

Monarch Airlines will launch flights to Alicante and Naples from Leeds-Bradford next spring. Starting in late March it is expected to operate three round and two trips a week to the Spanish and Italian cities respectively.
 


London – Geneva: fast rail link


Date: 21-Oct-2014

High speed train travel to Geneva with no need to change stations in Paris will be possible from December 14. Eurostar passengers from St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet will be able to switch to TGV Lyria services in Lille. Travel time to and from the Swiss city will be just over 6hrs. There will be a 37min wait in Lille on the way out (33mins on the homeward journey).
 


Silver travellers grumble less


Date: 20-Oct-2014

Is it because we’re that bit less starry eyed than the young – or is it that we’ve learned how to avoid the pitfalls of travel? Surprisingly, given our grumpy image, silver travellers complain less about their holidays than those in other age groups. Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows consumers express progressively higher satisfaction with tourism and transport providers the older they get. Tourism is the third highest scoring sector overall, following retail (non food) and retail (food). Transport, which includes airlines and ferries, is tenth. In the overall league table of top performing companies, which is headed by John Lewis. Center Parcs (13th) is the top tourism, followed by P&O Cruises (joint 24th), Marriott (joint 32nd) and Hilton (36th). P&O Ferries, classified and a transport company, is 29th.
 


Battle of Waterloo to be re-enacted


Date: 17-Oct-2014

A spectacular re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo will be staged in Belgium next summer to mark the bicentenary of one of history’s pivotal engagements. Some 5000 actors are expected to take part – with 300 horses and 100 canon. On June 19 the French attack will be staged. The following day it will be the allied counter-attack, with the fighting concentrated around the Hougoumont Farm, Over the two days there will also be a recreation of the bivouacs, providing an insight into the daily life of the troops as they prepared to fight. Tickets for each of the two battle re-enactments are already available on line at www.waterloo2015.org, priced €15.75. Admission to the bivouac exhibition is €6.75.

 


Sri Lanka gets new cliff top hotel


Date: 16-Oct-2014

A hotel developed by a tea producing family has opened on a headland in Sri Lanka. Cape Weligama, a complex of 40 villas, overlooks the Indian Ocean from a cliff top near Galle Fort on the south coast. It has a gym, an infinity pool and a speedboat used for whale watching excursions. The property, which is set in 12 acres of landscape gardens, is part of Resplendent Ceylon, set up by Dilmah Tea whose aim is to create a collection of small luxury resorts offering guests a taste of Sri Lankan history and culture. Its first venture, Ceylon Tea Trails, opened in 2005. Both properties are members of the up market Relais & Chateaux consortium.
 

Cape Weligama

Sandals and Beaches to provide free WiFi


Date: 15-Oct-2014

Free WiFi access will be available to all guests at Sandals and Beaches resorts from December 1. It is currently available only to customers booking premium holidays at the Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, such as those which come with concierge or butler service.
 


CityJet to axes Cardiff – Glasgow


Date: 14-Oct-2014

CityJet is to axe its Cardiff – Glasgow flights later this month – only nine months after it launched the service. However it will continue to fly from Welsh capital to Edinburgh and Paris. 
 


New St Petersburg flights to take off


Date: 13-Oct-2014

Russia’s Transaero Airlines is to launch non-stop services between London Heathrow and St. Petersburg on October 29 with round trip fares starting at £186 – which includes on board food and drink. Flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Departing from Heathrow at 6.30pm and arriving in St Petersburg at 1.50am. London-bound flights will leave at 3.40pm, arriving at 4.10pm. Flying time is 3hrs 30mins. Transaero is the second largest airline in the Russian Federation.

 


New Madeira flights


Date: 11-Oct-2014

Norwegian Air Shuttle is to launch winter services from Gatwick to Madeira on October 28. The low cost airline will fly there twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
 


Model train show expands


Date: 10-Oct-2014

Rail layouts from Scotland and south London in the 1960s will be replicated at the Great Electric Train Show next weekend. Run in conjunction with Hornby Magazine, this is the second such exhibition to be held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire. It will feature 27 model railway layouts across all gauges. It starts at 10am on October 11 and 12. Tickets are £9 for adults and £7 for children. The magazine’s editor Mike Wild claims the show will top last year’s with the introduction of a “Skills Zone” where experts will offer modeling advice.
 


Blackpool Airport to close


Date: 09-Oct-2014

Blackpool Airport is to close next week following failed efforts to find a buyer. Flights will cease after October 15. Passengers already booked to fly are advised to contact their airlines. In a statement its owners said: “We regret to announce that no agreement has been reached to secure the future of operations at Blackpool Airport. The airport operation has been making a loss for a number of years and unfortunately there is no option for the company other than to close. While the sales process announced at the end of August was a final attempt to secure the future of the airport, the airport's management had spent many months prior to this announcement approaching organisations with a potential interest in the airport in an attempt to find a buyer.”

 


CityJet to pull out of Cambridge


Date: 08-Oct-2014

CityJet is to axe its flights from Cambridge airport later this month. The British Airways subsidiary has been operating daily on both routes. The last departures will be on October 25. In a statement the airline said it had developed a strong working relationship with the airport “and will continue to explore potential opportunities for future routes.
 


Hotel with no TV wins award


Date: 07-Oct-2014

A Scottish hotel with no TV, no WiFi and “poor to non extistent” mobile reception has been named “Newcomer of the Year” in the latest edition of the annual Good Food Guide. The Moor of Rannoch Hotel in Perth and Kinross, described as “blissfully isolated”, fills the gap with board games, books, and wood burning stoves. Other awards: country hotel: is Wiltshire’s Pear Tree at Purton; top pub with rooms: the Talbot Inn at Mells, Somnerset; small hotel: Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton near Dorchester, Dorset; country house hotel: Lords or the Manor in Gloucestershire; Scottish, Welsh and Irish hotels of the year: respectively The Green Park, Pitlochry, Milebrook House, Knighton and Newforge House in County Armagh – and best dog friendly hotel: Overwater Hall, Cumbria.
 

Moor of Rannoch Hotel

Gentler skiing at Colorado resort


Date: 06-Oct-2014

Looking for somewhere off the beaten track to ski this winter? Colorado’s Crested Butte, long known for its superb expert powder tree skiing, has been extending it to cater for intermediates. Over the past two summers it has worked with the US Forest Service to identify suitable areas where trees can be thinned to make glades. Skiers seeking more gentle gladed terrain will have new options for the coming season in the East River area and off the Teocali lift. Getting there will also be easier following the introduction of United Airlines flights from Chicago to nearby Gunnison.

Crested Butte

T2 move for Lufthansa airlines


Date: 03-Oct-2014

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are the latest airline to have moved into Heathrow’s new Terminal 2. The German airline has opened its largest lounge in Europe there. Other carriers in the Lufthansa Group will switch their operations to the terminal over the next week or so, with Germanwings moving Wednesday October 8 followed by SWISS and Brussels Airlines on October 15.
 


BA to send Heathrow smartphone alerts


Date: 02-Oct-2014

British Airways customers with smart phones using Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will no longer need to keep an eye on the departure screens from the start of October. They will be able to receive alerts that their gates are open and the aircraft is boarding via the airline’s app. A few weeks after the service becomes available it will be extended to Terminal 3.
 


Hotel reaches for the sky


Date: 01-Oct-2014

Staggering views are promised from a hotel planned in Los Angeles. The 900 room InterContinental will have a lobby on the 70th floor. Scheduled to open in 2017 it will be housed in a 73 storey skyscraper – billed as the tallest in the western Americas - on a site previously occupied by the Wilshire Grand. The building will also incorporate office and retail space.

 


Russian hotel prices plummet


Date: 30-Sep-2014

The Ukraine crisis has hit Russia’s tourism industry hard, new figures show. Hotels there operated 15% emptier on average in August than in the same month last summer, according to research company STR Global. That’s already having an impact on room prices. Those in Moscow were down by 18.2% on average compared with August 2013 when calculated in euros. And even when currency fluctuations were taken out of the arithmetic, prices in roubles fell by an average of 9% for the country as a whole.
 


Silver travellers stay sociable


Date: 29-Sep-2014

We may get grumpier as we grow older but a high proportion of us remain tolerant enough to holiday with friends. The figure is close to one in five (18%) holidaymakers over 55, according to the latest annual Holiday Trends Report published by travel trade organisation ABTA. Sadly a high proportion also holiday alone - 13% in the 55-64 age category, rising to 21% of those over 65. The research also show a significant number take breaks with their immediate or extended families, suggesting that in tough times holidays are another drain on the Bank of Mum and Dad.
 


New London hotel opens


Date: 26-Sep-2014

A new hotel is now open in London’s Holborn this week. The 174 room Hoxton, which is housed in a Grade II listed building, has two restaurants. Room rates, which range from £69 to £269, include one hour of free phone calls to landlines and US mobiles in the UK, US, Australia and most of Europe. The property is sister to the Hoxton in Shoreditch.
 

The Hoxton Holborn

Hold baggage fees legal – court rules


Date: 25-Sep-2014

Airline fees for carrying checked luggage are legal, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The court in Luxembourg had been asked by a Spanish court to consider whether the country’s ban on such fees was compatible with EU law. This followed a complaint by a passenger against the low cost airline Vueling. In its ruling the court said the cost of carrying hold baggage was, as a component of the price of the service, a significant element. And it noted that it cannot be excluded that some air passengers prefer to travel without checking in baggage on the basis that doing so reduces the cost of their plane ticket”.

 


BA to fly to Kuala Lumpur again


Date: 24-Sep-2014

British Airways is to fly direct to Kuala Lumpur again. It last operated the route in 2001. Starting on May 27 next year the airline will operate daily flights to the Malaysian capital from Heathrow using extended range Boeing 777-200 aircraft with first, business, premium economy and economy cabins. Outbound flights will depart at 8.15pm, arriving 12hrd 45mins later at 4pm local time. London-bound services will leave at 11.05pm, arriving at 5.25am next morning.
 

Kuala Lumpur

Lace museum opens


Date: 23-Sep-2014

The New Bruges Lace Museum – Opened 19th September 2014. The history of lacemaking is unfolded at a new museum just opened in Bruges. It began there in the 16th century and soon began to play an important role in the culture and economics of the Belgian city. In the 19th century, religious groups also started teaching the skill. The museum is housed in one of the former schools they founded – that of the Apostollinnen sisters on Balstraat 16.

 

Bruges

River cruise and walk


Date: 22-Sep-2014

The appeal of combining a river cruise with guided walking will be tested next summer by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. The two operators, who already combine their expertise to run sea cruise and walk packages for are offering an 8 night holiday on the Loire and Garonne in France. Passengers will sail from Dover aboard Fred Olsen’s Braemar on 1 August. Prices start at £1125.

 

Silver ramblers

Northern Lights watchers get refunds


Date: 19-Sep-2014

The recent strength of sterling has prompted Northern Lights specialist The Aurora Zone to cut its prices. The operator is contacting all its customers to offer them an average reduction of around 7%. Its new lead in price is £1,138 for each of two sharing – down from £1,224 – which includes four nights’ full board accommodation, flights from Heathrow, activities, cold weather clothing and expert guides.
 


Northern Lights promise


Date: 18-Sep-2014

If the Northern Lights stubbornly refuse to put on a show, passengers on some Hurtigruten voyages this winter will be offered a second chance to see them. The Norwegian coastal line has issued a guarantee to customers' booking for its 11-night Classic Round voyages by November 30th, for departures between October 1st this year and March 31st, 2015. With the vessel spending a week in or close to the aurora zone the company is so confident passengers will see the lights that it will offer them seven or six night voyages the following winter if they don’t.
 

Northern Lights

White House Visitor Centre re-opens


Date: 17-Sep-2014

Washington’s White House Visitor Centre has re-opened after a $12,6m (£7.8m) renovation. During the work the centre, which includes exhibits covering aspects of the Presidential home from its architecture to the First Families who have lived there, has been housed in temporary premises. Admission is free and the centre is open from 7.40am until 4pm daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and January 1.
 

White House Visitor Centre

Hamburg flights from Docklands


Date: 16-Sep-2014

Flights to Hamburg are scheduled to take off from London City Airport next month. Starting on October 27, British Airways’ Danish franchise partner Sun-Air will operate two round trips a day on weekdays to the north German city, using a 32 seat Dornier 328 aircraft.
 

Hamburg

Scots holiday safeguards in doubt


Date: 15-Sep-2014

The future of package holiday safeguards for Scottish travellers will be thrown into doubt by a vote for independence this week. Seasoned travel industry observers expect the status quo would survive temporarily, while the terms and lengths of independent government were thrashed out - with air holidaymakers protected by the existing ATOL scheme and the EU’s package travel regulations. But with questions remaining over Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU it is thought that eventually the country might need to design a new protection scheme of its own to ensure travellers don’t lose money – or find themselves stranded abroad – when tour firms go bust.
 


Spot the stars over Ayers Rock


Date: 12-Sep-2014

The night skies over the Australian Outback are perfect for stargazing. Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory is employing an astronomer-in-residence who conducts free afternoon information sessions – until November - on five days of the week – to help guests identify planets and galaxies.
 

Ayers Rock

Snowshoe in Albania


Date: 11-Sep-2014

Snowshoeing in Albania is on offer in a new winter programme from Exodus. The tour operator says previous experience is not essential but would be advantageous “as this is a moderate to challenging grade trip in a remote region”. Travellers will be based at Valbone and Tropoje in the Albanian alps. Nine day trips cost from £1,099 per person, including flights, accommodation and all but two meals, snow shoes and poles.
 

Snowshoeing in Albania

Free bubbly on the slopes


Date: 10-Sep-2014

Never mind champagne powder – there will be free champagne on the slopes of Northstar, California this season. At 2.30pm guests will be offered a choice of Veuve Clicquot, a sparkling wine or some fizzy cider (in the US cider is usually non alcoholic). Northstar, which is close to the shore of Lake Tahoe, is part of the Vail Resorts stable.

 


Chile hotel has own dairy


Date: 09-Sep-2014

A new hotel with its own dairy producing milk and cheese has opened amid the stunning scenery of Chile’s lake district. The cheese maker introduces guests to his art. Set in 23 acres on the Liucara River the Vira Vira  has 22 rooms and suites. White water rafting, kayaking, fly fishing and bathing in thermal springs are all available. Original Travel can arrange stays there from £876 a head for three nights, including all meals and drinks, excursions, activities and airport transfers.
 

Chile

York claims techno lead


Date: 08-Sep-2014

York may be one of our oldest cities but it now claims to offer more ways to explore its attractions through technology than any other in the UK. Among them is a pioneering app - the world’s first according to its tourist office - featuring holographic guides. Developed in cooperation with appeartome.com it makes characters from the city’s past appear on the screens of visitors’ mobile devices at appropriate points on their itineraries. Details of this and other apps are at www.visityork.org. Free WiFi is available throughout the city centre with a free log in which you can get from the visitor centre.
 

View of York Minster from Precentor's Court

Docklands get new Guernsey flights


Date: 06-Sep-2014

Aurigny is scheduled to launch flights between London City and Guernsey next week. From September 8 the airline will offer two daily roune trips on weekdays. Flights will be operated initially by Belgian airline VLM. Departures from the Docklands airport are at 9.15am and 6.45pm with flights from the Channel Island at 8.45am and 6.15pm. Aurigny already flies between Guernsey and six other UK airports: Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Southampton, Bristol and East Midlands.

 

Castle Cornet, Guernsey

Yoga before take off


Date: 05-Sep-2014

Yoga sessions are now available in the SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal Four. A studio has been set aside in a two month pilot scheme. Travellers are provided with mats and a video showing an exercise sequences. Passengers flying on any of the alliance’s 13 members airlines can take advantage.


Istanbul gets new luxury hotel


Date: 04-Sep-2014

Boasting a rooftop pool and one of the biggest spas in the Turkish city, a new Raffles hotel has opened in Istanbul. With 180 rooms and suites the property is in the Zorlu Center, a new food, fashion and arts complex in Besiktas, overlooking the Bosphorus on the European side. This will be the tenth hotel in the Raffles chain. The first Raffles opened in Singapore – the company’s home base – in 1887.
 

Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center

Rome ups tourist tax


Date: 04-Sep-2014

Rome’s tourist tax has increased. According to the European Tour Operators Association it has gone up from €3 to €6 per night, for example, for a visitor staying in a four star hotel.
 


Gatwick gets new Jakarta link


Date: 03-Sep-2014

Indonesian airline Garuda is scheduled to start its delayed operation between Gatwick and Jakarta next week. From September 8 it will fly five times a week via Amsterdam using an extended range Boeing 777-300. The airline originally planned to launch the operation in May but postponed the start after it ran into difficulties securing suitable take off and landing slots this summer at Gatwick.
 


More silver skiers heading off piste


Date: 02-Sep-2014

Silver skiers are increasingly hitting the deep powder. The Ski Club of Great Britain has upped the number of holidays if offers for higher level and adventurous skiers over 50 through its Freshtracks operation. For example it has just introduced a one week ski and spa package at Ponte di Legno in Italy including six days guided off piste skiing (£1299 including scheduled flights, transfers, four star half board and mountain guides. Last year it saw overall increase of 15% in bookings from members for its Peak Experience holidays, which are designed for over 50s – whether for packages aimed at advanced or expert skiers or those preferring gentle on piste cruising. And it expects a further 10% increase for the coming season.

Read more about Silver Skiing

More silver skiers heading off piste

Free Wi-Fi at Amsterdam airport


Date: 02-Sep-2014

Passengers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport can now access the internet via free, unlimited WiFi. Select Schiphol Airport_WiFi on the login page.
 

Free WiFi at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Robot room service


Date: 01-Sep-2014

Call room service at one of the Starwood group’s Aloft hotels from now on and you may find your small items are delivered by a robot. Described as the hotel industry’s first Botir (robotic butler) it will make its first deliveries at the Aloft Cupertino, appropriately in California’s Silicon Valley. It will, says Starwood, even be able to negotiate the lift.
 

Botir

… and robots go to sea


Date: 01-Sep-2014

Robot bartenders will mix cocktails aboard Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, which is scheduled to enter service in November. Customers will order their drinks using tablets. 

Quantum of the Seas

Mushroom hunting in Rutland


Date: 29-Aug-2014

Love wild mushrooms? Hambleton Hall, near Oakham in Rutland is offering a foraging outing on October 4 led by mycologist Paul Nichol who will identify those that which are edible and delicious, such as the parasol, and those which cause harm. The excursion to Burley-on-the-Hill wood will be followed by a fungus themed lunch back the hotel, whose chef has a Michelin star. The outing and lunch cost £85 per person. A night’s B&B starts at £265 per double room.
 

Hambleton Hall

Haiti set to make tourism mark


Date: 28-Aug-2014

Tourism looks set to help Haiti overcome its troubled recent history. Following years of political unrest and the 2010 earthquake which caused so much devastation and grief in the Caribbean country the giant Carnival line has announced its intention to develop a cruise port on the island of Tortuga, just off the north coast. The company estimates it will create over 900 jobs, directly or indirectly and it is expected that eventually cruise passengers will be offered a range of new shore excursions.
 


Rising demand for long escapes


Date: 27-Aug-2014

Demand from silver travellers for long espapes to a warmer climate appear to be growing. Britanny Ferries says it has sold twice as many four week apartment packages for autumn, winter and spring as it had at this point last year. It has added the Algarve and increased the number of destinations on offer on the Spanish Costas. The packages cost from £599 per person, including the car ferry crossing.
 


Antarctic lure for solo travellers


Date: 26-Aug-2014

Growing demand from solo travellers has persuaded Quark Expeditions to drop its single supplement for some cabins aboard Ocean Endeavour – a forthcoming addition to its Antarctica expedition fleet. The move means significant savings. Following a major makeover the 199 passenger ship will make 12 voyages starting late next year. The company says there will be a special on board focus on fitness, with passengers being offered the option of healthy meals, yoga and stretching classes and a massage therapy session.
 

Quark Expeditions

Floating hotel planned


Date: 25-Aug-2014

A ship will be converted into a floating hotel to be moored next to the former royal yacht Britannia, now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh's port of Leith. The MV Windsor Castle, was launched in 1963, the last ship built by the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company in Glasgow. After a conversions costing nearly £1m the hotel is scheduled to open with 25 rooms in Spring 2016.

 


Airport passengers to be tracked


Date: 23-Aug-2014

Passengers at Helsinki airport may soon receive warnings via their smart phone that they are running out of time to shop or eat before heading for the departure gate. The airport’s operator has installed technology, developed by Finnish company Walkbase, which will track the mobile devices of travellers who leave them switched on using some 300 beacons and routers. The firm says it will not be able to see or store personal data. The system will be used to identify bottlenecks and eventually to send passengers information – about delays or gate changes, for example.

 


BA passengers can now hold flights


Date: 22-Aug-2014

British Airways now allows passengers seeking the best airline deals will be able to hold flights for up to 72 hours through ba.com. It costs £5 or £10 for short or long haul trips to most destinations respectively. Seats can be held until 21 days before departure. Only one traveller’s name is needed. Other names can be added within the 72 hour window. The move applies to BA and Iberia, code sharing flights, Iberia Express and Air Nostrum  - and any combination of BA and Iberia services, provided they are on the same ticket. NB: there are some destinations which aren’t included for what BA describes as “complex fluctuating tax calculations”. These include Israel, Norway, Denmark and Sweden – though the airline says they will be added “in due course”.
 


Cunard cancels two cruises


Date: 21-Aug-2014

Cunard has cancelled two cruises on the Queen Victoria after the need to replace a bearing in a propulsion unit forced it to bring forward the ship’s planned refit. Cruises affected are a 12 night sailing to the Canaries leaving on January 3-and a five-night trip to Amsterdam and Cherbourg departing immediately after that. 15-20 January 2015. Passengers have been offered full refunds or £100 credits against alternative bookings for cruise departing before January 17, 2017.
 

Queen Victoria - Cunard

China flights boost for Heathrow


Date: 20-Aug-2014

Air China is to double the number of weekly flights it operates to Beijing from Heathrow. From October it will fly two round trips a day from the London airport’s new Terminal 2, where all its fellow members of the Star Alliance have chosen to operate under the same roof. The airline also flies to Beijing from Gatwick. Also in October China Eastern will add an extra round trip to its Heathrow-Shanghai service.

 


Tourist attractions fail disabled visitors


Date: 19-Aug-2014

Britain’s top tourist attractions still have some way to go before catering fully for disabled people, according to a new survey. The charity Vitalise said just under half of the country’s 100 most visited attractions responded to its request for basic accessibility information. Of the 52 that did reply 63% said they were not completely accessible for wheelchair users, 25% had no parking places for disabled drivers or passengers, on 13% had trained staff in disability awareness and 26% hadn’t put relevant information on their web sites. Chief Executive, Chris Simmonds, commented: "The results of our survey show too many of Britain's tourist attractions are not taking accessibility seriously. That has got to improve. But, just as importantly, these venues need to work just as hard on how they communicate essential accessibility information to people with disabilities. Our own research shows two thirds of disabled people decide against visiting attractions because of a lack of clear information about how accessible it is."

Read about the Silver Travel Advisor guide to Great British Accessible Attractions.


Monarch quits East Midlands


Date: 18-Aug-2014

Monarch Airlines is to stop flying from East Midlands Airport by the end of April next year. The change is part of its planned transformation into a low cost scheduled airline as it moves away from charters. In announcing its decision Monarch noted that its Birmingham base was only 37 miles from East Midlands by road. Chief Executive Andrew Swaffield said: “As holiday habits change, our customers want a greater choice of flight times and destinations – particularly for short breaks. As we evolve from our roots in charter flying to become a scheduled European low-cost carrier we are becoming more focussed in the services we offer which we believe will provide customers overall with a more attractive flying schedule in the future.”

 

Monarch Airlines

Art where trains ran – project launched


Date: 15-Aug-2014

If you encounter an upturned railway carriage while out walking in the Northamptonshire countryside during the next few months, don’t rush to call the emergency services. It’ll probably be an installation by the Catalan artist and architect Xevi Bayona. He is one of a group of artists taking part in Changing Tracks, the positioning of outdoor public artworks on or close to disused railway lines, which will be launched on August 15th. Venues will include the Nene Valley. Aideen Berry, for example, will draw inspiration from the now ridiculous seeming 19th century “Hints for Lady Travellers by Lillian Campbell Davidson with stop motion video projections at unexpected locations. The works will remain in place until November.
 


Circus comes to hotel guests


Date: 14-Aug-2014

The staff bend over backwards for guests at the Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa, a five star property near Cusco in Peru. Well, some of them do. The hotel has four in house acrobats who formerly worked with the Cirque du Soleil and now perform outdoors with equipment including a trapeze - against the backdrop of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
 

Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa

Newcastle gets new sun flights


Date: 13-Aug-2014

Jet2 is to launch weekly flights to four sunshine destinations from Newcastle next year. Starting in May the low fare airline will operate to Antalya (Turkey on Fridays, Malta on Thursdays, Larnaca (Cyprus), and Zante – both on Wednesdays.
 


Have the slopes to yourself


Date: 12-Aug-2014

Guests at the posh Tschuggen Grand Hotel in the Swiss resort of Arosa will have exclusive use of the slopes on November 28 - the opening day of the season. The runs can be reached in 2mins 30secs using the hotel’s private mountain railway. Three night half board in a double room, with access to the Tschuggen Bergoase Spa and a ski pass for the 29th costs around £628.
 

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

Round Asia flight pass launched


Date: 11-Aug-2014

The SkyTeam airline group has launched a round Asia pass allowing travellers to undercut the price of booking with individual carriers. As an example it cites an itinerary starting in Guangzhou, China, and taking in Sydney, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei and Seoul, which costs €2029. Bought separately from airlines belonging to the alliance it would cost €2664. Passengers can buy passes in three mileage bands of 13,000, 17,000 and 21,00 and itineraries could include destinations as diverse as Uzbekistan and the Maldives. They can be booked through travel agents or direct with any of the 20 SkyTeam members.
 


Amsterdam summer city of choice


Date: 07-Aug-2014

Amsterdam looks like being the European city destination of choice this summer holiday peak, according to hotel market intelligence provider TravelClick. On average its hotels have committed bookings for 54.8% of their rooms. London and Paris are close behind, each with 50.6% booked, though at weekend in the former it’s closer to two thirds. Barcelona is averaging 37.5% and Prague is hovering around 22%.
 

Amsterdam

Unlimited free Wi-Fi at Munich Airport


Date: 06-Aug-2014

Let’s hear it for Munich Airport which has just announced travellers can connect with the internet free of charge – for as long as they like. Previously passengers wanting to get on line using laptops, tablets or smart phones were allowed on 30 minutes free.
 

Munich Airport

Coach firm collapse – clients offered deal


Date: 05-Aug-2014

Customers of collapsed coach firm Hatts have been offered half price replacement holidays. The offer came from Westin super Mare based coach company Bakers Dolphin. It is estimated that around 1000 people had outstanding bookings with the Hatts when the Wiltshire based firm went into administration. Bakers Dolphin said most of its holidays included pick up points throughout Wiltshire and many offered home pick ups. Hatts customers interested in taking up the offer should call 01934 415000.
 

Bakers Dolphin

Delta to launch new Utah flights


Date: 04-Aug-2014

Salt Lake City is not just a gateway to the national parks of Utah – such as Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon. It’s also a good jumping off point for other spectacular parks, including Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. Delta will launch a new service there from Amsterdam next spring, creating a new potential link for travellers from the UK who will be able to connect via Schiphol airport on flights by the US carrier’s partner, KLM. Delta already operates between Salt Lake and Paris.
 

Arches, Utah

Tablets in hotel rooms trial


Date: 02-Aug-2014

Make sure you’re internet savvy as tablets look likely to become widely available in hotel rooms. The Mandarin Oriental group is testing a scheme  to make the information you usually get in big printed folders available via apps running on Microsoft Surface Pro devices. The apps will cover in room dining, concierge and housekeeping requests, for example. The scheme is being piloted at hotels in London, Washington DC, Las Vegas and Tokyo.
 


New river cruise guide


Date: 21-Jun-2014

A new guide which compares and rates European river cruise ships is now available. It’s been compiled by Douglas Ward, who has written the annual Berlitz guide to cruising at sea for the past 30 years. The new guide – Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe – costs £14.99.
 






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